Posted Monday at 10:41 a.m.
When plugged into a car’s computer, the Allstate Drive Wise device can monitor driving habits and reward the good ones.
Allstate has launched a voluntary program that uses a device installed in a car to reward safe and low-mileage Illinois drivers with savings of up to 30 percent.
The Northbrook-based auto insurer plans to expand the program, called Drive Wise, to other states as early as the second quarter of 2011.
Allstate Drive Wise participants get a small, wireless gadget that plugs into their vehicle’s onboard computer through the diagnostic port, usually under the dashboard.
For consumers concerned about Big Brother, Allstate said the device tracks only factors used to calculate a driving score, including mileage; driving time of day; hard or extreme braking; and maximum speed.
Speeds of more than 80 miles an hour hurt the score.
Allstate policyholders get a 10 percent discount for enrolling. Later policy terms use a performance rating, where driving behavior and total mileage determine the discount.
Other insurers also use gizmos to help determine safe drivers. Progressive has its SnapShot program, but it’s not offered in Illinois.
Bloomington-based State Farm offers its Ohio and California customers who have OnStar the opportunity to receive discounts based on mileage. Those programs were rolled out in August 2009 and this month, respectively. “We are not, however, collecting other data from the OnStar devices,” State Farm spokesman Dick Luedke said.
Allstate’s rates won’t go up based on behavioral ratings, but discounts of up to 30 percent can be earned by Allstate drivers with the safest driving and low mileage scores.
In designing Drive Wise, Allstate said it conducted “extensive consumer research.” Also, about 300 volunteer workers logged almost 2 million test miles. In one worker test measuring hard stops, aggressive starts and swerving, the percentage of participants scoring in the ideal “safe zone” tripled to 75 percent from 25 percent.
Allstate believes that, adopted broadly, Drive Wise can save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in injury losses and property damage each year.
Consumers can learn more about Allstate’s Drive Wise and Progressive’s SnapShot program.